By Erin Corbett
This week has been historical for the gay rights movement with a breakthrough in legal history. The Supreme Court has ruled the Defense of Marriage Act, otherwise known as DOMA, as unconstitutional.
DOMA was signed into law in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton, excluding married gay couples from a number of crucial legal rights, including the non-recognition of married partners of gay Americans under the immigration system.
The Guardian states,
“Within hours of the supreme court ruling striking down the Defence of Marriage Act (Doma) […] many branches of the federal government including the Pentagon and State Department had issued statements saying they would immediately extend employee benefits to same-sex partners.”
Others, including the Department of Homeland Security have announced that immigration policies that affect mixed nationality gay couples would go under revision as well.
Gay couples in same-sex marriage states will now have the right to file joint tax returns and will have access to federal benefits. But more than just in terms of legality, the ruling of DOMA as unconstitutional could provoke a shift in mentality of popular thought in US society. Could this legal ruling reduce homophobia and thus the oppression of “non-heterosexuals?”
There is still much to be done in terms of same-sec marriage and legality, but the ruling of DOMA as unconstitutional has definitely been a positive step forward in embracing the many cultures and ideas of the world we live in today.
Moreover, governor Jerry Brown of California has taken on a separate Supreme Court ruling, dismissing an appeal to uphold the state's Proposition 8 vote banning gay marriage. County clerks have been instructed to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples – the ruling is set to become official in 25 days.
It only seems right that such a huge step forward for the gay community take place during Pride month.
The Guardian states,
“The San Francisco gay community threw one of the biggest parties of the year on Wednesday. Thousands of people thronged the Castro neighborhood, at the heart of gay life in the city. Businesses closed early and traffic was detoured away from the area as revelers danced into the night.”
Let us think of this time as a huge step forward for an oppressed community and remember that we must continue to fight for equal rights as there is a long way to go for many who are still victims of hate, fear, and ignorance.
The only way to create further change is by continuing to talk about these pressing issues!
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